After a glorious day here at Loch of the Lowes, with warm sunshine enough to bring our endless butterflies and damselflies, the late afternoon turning into a downpour! As I write our female osprey is sitting on the nest , getting drenched, not having moved much at all for the last couple of hours- you can hardly fault her dedication to incubation!
She is continuing to incubate and though the eggs were left for a while this morning again, both birds have incubated today so they haven’t given up yet.
I have been asked a lot: do birds have a sense of time, which is difficult to answer as scientific study into this is patchy at best. Of course the birds don’t count days like us, but they do have a very acute sense of seasonality and time, as they migrate, breed and so on , with great accuracy and consistency every year. We know in many species, that it is seasonally varying day length ( and not temperature) that is a crucial trigger in many behaviours. Could this mean that as the days start to shorten again after solstice ( 21st/22nd June) , the birds may give up knowing this is too late? In some species the lunar cycle dedicates behaviour such as spawning, so perhaps the birds may understand if two lunar cycles have passed , rather than one, that this is too long for the eggs?
The other questions I am being asked a lot , is when the birds gave up incubation last time this happened- it was 70 days after the first egg was laid, and this was in early July.
What else has been happening on the nest? Well. we’ve had regular ‘drop ins’ and ‘fly pasts’ the last few days by another osprey but this hasn’t caused much bother, so it is likely to be a local neighbour. At one point this week, there were four birds in the air above the lochs which was a real treat. A less welcome intruder was a heron which was seen off the our ospreys in no uncertain terms- these can be a real threat to chicks.
Elsewhere on the loch this evening we’ve had Swifts in flight and a Tern- real signs of summer at last though you wouldn’t know it with this weather!